The Thrill and the Pain of a Startup

I’m back in startup mode for a new venture focused on women and cannabis wellness. Yes, you heard me right. Cannabis wellness.

Over the past year, I’ve been immersing myself in the legal cannabis industry, consulting cannabis-related businesses on digital and social media marketing strategies and best practices. I’ve also been speaking at conferences about the ins and outs of marketing cannabis online as well as how to translate traditional business skills into a cannabis career. What an enriching time this has been!

If you witnessed the early days of the Internet and web, you know how exciting it was to watch an entire industry spring up from a seed, a network of computers. Today, I’m getting the same feeling that I had in the early and mid-90s. The cannabis industry is at the cusp of exponential growth, particularly as more and more states are reviewing legislation to legalize, particularly on the medical side.

Right now, 28 states and Washington DC have legalized cannabis in some form. Yes, its legal in more than half of the USA.

Federally, that’s another story, but the likelihood of our government interfering with individual state laws around cannabis is slim. The political reasons for that are pretty obvious, but this isn’t a political blog post.

Back to Startups

This is about personal and professional empowerment and about startups. Starting up a new venture, particularly in an industry with complex legal aspects, is an adventure. But because I’m in the media, marketing and education aspect of the cannabis industry, my business partner and I are building an “ancillary” business that doesn’t “touch the plant,” so we’re not as hampered by the mishmash of laws.

Building a startup in any industry is both challenging and thrilling. But for all the thrill of starting up something new, watching it come together, speaking with people – in this case women – who are so emotionally invested in seeing a business like this built – there is a lot of pain that goes along with starting up a company such as…

Sleepless Nights

Despite all the research I’ve done on the importance of sleep, for all the natural remedies I’ve used to sleep through the night, my brain is going a mile a minute, and my sleep is affected. I’m working on solving this pain point because I know that I function best on 8 hours a night, and I need my mind to be sharp to work through all the details of starting up a new company.

Attack of the Numbers

Despite this great business idea, a proven track record, and incredibly passionate interest from women in what we’re building, if we want to get funded from outside sources, we have to put a slew of numbers in a spreadsheet and show the growth opportunity. I get it. I know this has to be done.

But what I find fascinating (and dismaying) is that it really is just a numbers game. While I am absolutely certain that what we are building will literally save lives and grow big because there is a desperate need for it, in the business world, it is all about adding more zeros to the dollar amounts and the bottom line, not about the number of women’s lives that will be positively impacted by what we’re doing. That continues to be hard for me to swallow, but I’m choking it down because this is how the game is played. And if we can get onto that playing field, we’ll score big not just for our investors but for women across the country.

Feeling Small

I’m educated, I’m smart, I’ve been successful, I’m well-connected, I have a fantastic new business partner. I’m on top of the world. And yet, every day is a slog through the gross and sucking feeling that I’m not good enough. I’ve talked about and blogged about my issues with low self-esteem many times before, and it seems that no amount of outside validation can dispel it. I know it has to change on the inside.

I think I’m so driven every day – to the point that I was recently called “a machine” as a compliment regarding my drive and accomplishments – because I feel like I haven’t done enough yet in life. I’m middle aged. I’m past the halfway point of my life. And I still feel there is so much more I can and should be doing.

So every day, I work that much harder to prove to myself I can do it. I have nothing against hard work – and I have a hell of a lot to show for my work. I just wish it wasn’t fueled by the fear of being inadequate. I’m still working on that pain point.

Thinking Small

I know this thing is going to be big. BIG as a business. And big in a life transforming way for so many people.

But going back to the numbers thing, I’ve always struggled thinking about and talking about big numbers. Not that I don’t want them. Not that I don’t know how to get to them. But I’ve always stayed in the safe zone of relatively small numbers that I could wrap my head around.

I’m pushing myself through this mental barrier and feeling those big numbers with my entire being. I’m not a numbers person, and that is okay. What I bring to the table is of tremendous value. I can hire a numbers person. I’ve got a big vision, a big mission,  and a big business opportunity. B-I-G. I am embracing BIG THINKING. (Shut up, Fear. You don’t belong here.)

Being in Startup mode is not for the feint of heart, as they say. It is about taking leaps off cliffs knowing that there is something real there to keep you going and growing. It is about sleepless nights and too much coffee because there is no time to lose to make this thing happen.

It is about getting out your Sword of Courage and slaying those Dragons of Fear and Insecurity.

It is about making something happen in the world, building something that matters, and not taking no for an answer.

Will you join me on this journey? What dragons are you slaying today?

P.S. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about what I’m building.

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